• Sep 22nd 2007 at 11:58AM
  • 34
Sunday's New York Times has an article about the complete lack of a normal electric car the average person can afford. There are smaller vehicles you can buy and you can search Ebay for a good conversion or a RAV4 but the New York Times is essentially correct. If you are a middle class guy with 2.5 kids and you want a four-door sedan, electric car for about $30,000 you are SOL. Here are some quotes from the article;

"Strip away the promises and the offerings are virtually nonexistent. Not a single purely electric vehicle with four seats and the ability to reach highway speeds is being mass-produced anywhere in the world. ... There is still not a single E.V. or plug-in hybrid available that can approach the driving range, interior room and performance of a typical gas-powered family sedan, at anywhere near the price that an average consumer would pay."

Below the fold is a video of the Exar-1, a failed normal looking electric car. Lots of electric cars have failed not just in the '70s,'80s and '90s as the New York Times mentions, but from the '20s to '60s as well. Will history repeat itself with the new promising batch of fully electric car and/or battery companies like Miles, Tesla, Phoenix, A123, Altair and EEstor? Maybe the fully electric car will never play a large role?

Editor's Update: I think we should point out these ten electric cars, which are perhaps not normal or affordable, but they are (mostly) available.

[Source: New York Times and tipster Phil]


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  • 34 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Feb.21,2008

      Gentlemen
      We need not worry about anyone trying to control the battery swap stations,
      something I can design (see my web sites below) if need be.
      Not only lithium-ion batteries could be used in these stations but
      any type see this web site of the EPA.

      http://epa.gov/otaq/consumer/fuels/altfuels/420f00034.htm

      It states -The following types of batteries have the potential to power electric vehicles:
      • Lead-Acid— Provides a low-cost, low-range (less than 100 miles) option wi
      th a 3-year life cycle.
      • Nickel-Metal Hydride — Offers a greater driving range and life cycle, but is cur
      rently more expensive than lead-acid batteries.
      • Nickel-Cadmium — Offers a range of 100 miles, a long life, and faster rechar
      ges than lead-acid batteries, but is more expensive and has lower peak pow
      er and recharging efficiency.
      • Lithium-Ion — Offers the potential for a long driving range and life cy
      cle, but is currently very costly.
      •Zinc-Air — Currently under development. Provides superior performance compa
      red to current battery technology.
      Flywheels Currently under development. Could be capable of storing a larger
      amount of energy in smaller, lighter weight systems than chemical batteries.

      SO PUSH COMES TO SHOVE ANY CHOICE WILL WORK

      No need waiting the choices above may limit our distances between swaps but not for long a
      temporary more frequent stops but only for a minute. Since a global standard size
      and voltage will be agreed upon
      forcing the auto manufacturers to comply to a quick swap interfacing at all stations
      all new entrepreneurs will want to participate thus forcing competition like never
      before. I.E. No more monopolies in refueling any and all vehicles including trucks and buses.
      Visit my web sites for a new beginning -check this

      http://globalsys.topcities.com/electriCar.html

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      http://globalsys.topcities.com

      For more data on other items go down towards the bottom of the last
      web site above and click on to the various indexes.
      I hope you enjoy it. A new attitude is coming for a better and happier world

      Sicerely Jack Marchand
      • 8 Years Ago
      The biggest problem is actually not the technology, as anything produced in high volume eventually becomes cheap enough for the Average Joe. No, the issue is that US consumers always want the full-fat version from Day One yet have unrealistic price expectations for that.

      Some BEV enthusiasts claim that they are completely independent of foreign oil. Well, the groceries and other goods they buy are still delivered by diesel trucks. If they live on the East Coast, chances are heating oil keeps them warm in winter.

      If you want to contribute toward getting electric drive technology into high-volume series production, the key thing to look for is Li-Ion batteries and/or supercaps, even if these are only used in a supporting role (e.g. Valeo Stars-X).

      We may also see POPHEVs (peripheral-only PHEVs) in which all of the vehicle peripherals except oil pump and probably, valve actuation are powered using grid electricity. This includes engine start, A/C compressor, power steering, lights and passenger compartment goodies, optional cabin and diesel fuel heaters (for cold climates), an optional AC outlet inside the cabin plus the locked external AC outlet (if you're camping or something).

      In addition, an electric supercharger and/or torque boost motor can be fitted and activated as needed. All this lets the engine concentrate on propulsion alone, at least until the grid charge is depleted. POPHEVs would be a natural evolution of BMW's EfficientDynamics approach. It would let manufacturers transition to a higher voltage grid (e.g. 42V) and kick-start the market for automotive Li-ion batteries using small packs.

      You wouldn't be driving a single mile on grid electricity alone, but unless you're a CARB bureaucrat, so what? For an manageable premium up front, you could get a car with a sharply downsized ICE - preferably turbocharged - and save perhaps 20% in fuel cost.

      This way, the car you buy after you sell your used POPHEV may be a full PHEV or true BEV that you can actually afford.
      • 8 Years Ago
      blackbirdhighway:
      You're not looking at the root of the problem. Yes, CARB dropped the ZEV requirement. But that was because the requirement was that 10% of vehicles sold had to be ZEVs, which as established in this article and in "Who Killed the Electric Car?" are so impractical and expensive as to be unsellable to even 10% of the population.

      Yes, GM worked to get the CARB ZEB requirement dropped. They would have had to distribute the huge losses on the electric cars across their entire lineup, making their cars more expensive.

      I think you're off base about the idea that mass producing a car like the Tesla would cut the cost. The Tesla has about $30,000 worth of batteries in it. These batteries are already a commodity item. Thus they have already undergone the huge drop in price that comes from mass production. In fact, Tesla is such a small consumer of batteries next to a company like Motorola, Nokia, Sony or Apple that if Tesla cannot impact the cost a car battery pack much at all by ramping up production. They can impact the prices of other parts of the car, that's for sure.

      But the whammy here is that any car of a useful size is going to require even more than $30K worth of batteries.

      How do you talk about "market demand" when speaking of government mandates. If there were market demand, it wouldn't take a law to make companies produce electric cars. And tax penalties on gas cars is unlikely any time soon. It's a sure way to get voted out of office.

      Phil L.:
      I agree. People talk about these electric cars in Europe and say this means electric cars are taking off there. It is important to find out who is really buying these cars and how many. Because I could easily argue that electric cars are taking off here because the company I work for has some (in fact, they have some Th!nks, which Ford cancelled years ago) and the city of Palo Alto has some. In fact, in many retirement communities, electric cars (glorified golf carts) are becoming popular for driving around the neighborhood. They've probably sold a substantial number of these vehicles in the U.S.

      But none of this means the electric car is taking off in the US for normal people on normal roads. I wouldn't be surprised to find the case is similar in Europe.
      • 8 Years Ago
      why not... -

      The Ford Th!nk City (not the golf cart model; the two-seat local commuter) had a shot at a bright future. Unlike most similar efforts at the time, Ford projected being able to sell them at a price that wasn't outrageous - and still make a profit. I keep a Th!nk City picture pinned above my desk at work, just to remind me of the promise this effort had.

      I believe less than a handful are still in the US. Thankfully, Ford resisted the urge to crush them. But they're back in Norway, where it all started, and the original company is now in new hands. Thankfully, they're still working on EVs; I hope to see more from them in the future.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I think the most promising BEV on the radar - if they actually deliver as advertised - is the Miles. Their $30K, 150 mile range, four door sedan seems to have the right mix of range, price, practicality and ability to pass the LA freeway test. When I can put my name to the title and plug it in in my garage, this argument will be history.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I'm flattered that this site I read regularly embedded the video I uploaded. Amectran's videos are buried on their site and I was surprised to find no Exar-1 stuff on Youtube so I got it up there.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I'm puzzled by the New York Times attitude towards Electric Cars and PHEVs. They publish largely puff pieces about hydrogen fuel cell vehicles which are decades away and then they have this guy do a supposedly "hard-hitting" expose' of what is deemed to be marketing hype about electric cars. In the lengthy series of hydrogen cars none of the obvious drawbacks were discussed at any length and instead much room was given to the 'promise" of hydrogen. Interestingly the NYT technology columnist David Pogue did a largely positive piece ON CBS News about electric cars. I'm not even sure which master they are trying to please or which consumers they think they are protecting by publishing this type of journalism. In this piece there is no room given to any of the substantial promise of electric vehicles. It also entirely ignores the substantial resistance of major carmakers to mass producing electrics until very recently, using instead a "just world" attitude towards their failure...i.e. electric cars deserved every negative heaped on them.
      • 8 Years Ago
      This time the electric car is here to stay. People nowadays are aware of the oil situation. People are aware of the necessity to reduce the CO2 in the atmosphere. And because of the good energy effiency of the EV:s, they will for sure be the next type of mass produced vehicle in the world.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Why does everyone forget the solelectria? Guys from MIT were making them back in 1997 or so... I saw one at the University of Florida about that time.

      • 8 Years Ago
      BTW, does anybody know what happened to www.teslamotorsclub.com?

      It's been offline for a couple days now.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I built my own electric car for about $6,000. It isn't as good as these production cars, but proves that they can be built inexpensively.

      http://galaxy22.dyndns.org/ev-talon/
      • 7 Years Ago
      Let's assume we get 80% government grant when we buy a E.V. That would make them affordable for a lot of people. The brown out that the east and west coast experience each summer will be nothing compaired to the problems they will have when the grid tries to recharge millions of E.V. battries.
      The electric motor car is here but we have failed to power the grid to make all this happen.
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